In 1642, Myndert Myndertsen received a patroonship as part of the New Netherland colony for much the land in the Hackensack and Passaic valleys. He called his settlement Achter Kol, or rear mountain pass, which refers to its accessibility to the interior behind the Palisades. Originally spared in the conflicts that begin with the Pavonia Massacre, the nascent colony was later abandoned. In 1655, Oratam, sachem of the Hackensack, deeded a large tract nearby to Sara Kiersted, who had learned the native language and was instrumental in negotiations between Native Americans and the settlers. In 1668, much of the land between Overpeck Creek and the Hudson River was purchased by Samuel Edsall, and soon became known as the English Neighborhood, despite the fact most of the settlers were of Dutch and Huguenot origin.
The initial 118 miles (190 km) of the New Jersey Turnpike were completed in 1952, with the original northern terminus at an interchange connecting to Route 46 in Ridgefield. An additional four-mile stretch of road connecting the Turnpike from Ridgefield to Interstate 80 in Teaneck and from there to the George Washington Bridge was completed in 1964. The western spur was added in the 1970s, with its two spurs re-connecting in the western side of the borough.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 2.854 square miles (7.394 km2), including 2.551 square miles (6.608 km2) of land and 0.303 square miles (0.786 km2) of water (10.62%).
The borough is informally divided into three sections based on the geographical contour of the land. The first section is known as Ridgefield, and lies partly in the valley on both the east and west sides and partly on the first hill. The second section is known as Morsemere, and is located in the northern part of the borough. The third section is Ridgefield Heights, on the second hill at the extreme eastern part of the borough, running north and south.
Morsemere was named by a real estate development company in honor of Samuel F. B. Morse, inventor of the telegraph and Morse code. During the middle of the 19th century, Morse owned vast tracts of land in the Ridgefield section of the borough. Ridgefield's telephone exchange was Morsemere 6 until dial service arrived in the mid-1950s.
There were 3,905 households out of which 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.9% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.3% were non-families. 19.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.25.Same-sex couples headed 31 households in 2010, an increase from the 24 counted in 2000.
In the borough, the population was spread out with 21.6% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 30.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.5 years. For every 100 females there were 92.0 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 89.5 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $59,784 (with a margin of error of +/- $12,149) and the median family income was $76,618 (+/- $5,428). Males had a median income of $51,682 (+/- $4,297) versus $39,178 (+/- $5,838) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $28,107 (+/- $2,625). About 3.7% of families and 5.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.2% of those under age 18 and 7.5% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 Census, 16.31% of Ridgefield's residents identified themselves as being of Korean ancestry, which was the sixth highest in the United States and fourth highest of any municipality in New Jersey — behind Palisades Park (36.38%), Leonia (17.24%) and Fort Lee (17.18%) — for all places with 1,000 or more residents identifying their ancestry. In the same census, 3.0% of Ridgefield's residents identified themselves as being of Croatian ancestry. This was the third highest percentage of people with Croatian ancestry in any place in New Jersey with 1,000 or more residents identifying their ancestry. 2.4% of Ridgefield's residents identified themselves as being of Armenian ancestry, the 16th highest percentage of Armenian people in any place in the United States with 1,000 or more residents identifying their ancestry. As of the 2000 Census, 1.3% of residents identified themselves as being of Turkish American ancestry, the seventh-highest of any municipality in the United States and fifth-highest in the state.
There were 4,020 households out of which 32.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.7% were married couples living together, 9.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.2% were non-families. 23.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.19.
In the borough, the population was spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 6.3% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 23.3% from 45 to 64, and 17.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.8 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $54,081, and the median income for a family was $66,330. Males had a median income of $47,975 versus $36,676 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $25,558. About 4.7% of families and 6.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.4% of those under age 18 and 6.7% of those age 65 or over.
Broad Avenue in Ridgefield
Ridgefield is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government. The governing body consists of a Mayor and a Borough Council comprising six council members, with all positions elected at-large on a partisan basis as part of the November general election. A Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. The Borough Council consists of six members elected to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election each year in a three-year cycle. The Borough form of government used by Ridgefield, the most common system used in the state, is a "weak mayor / strong council" government in which council members act as the legislative body with the mayor presiding at meetings and voting only in the event of a tie. The mayor can veto ordinances subject to an override by a two-thirds majority vote of the council. The mayor makes committee and liaison assignments for council members, and most appointments are made by the mayor with the advice and consent of the council.
As of 2019[update], the Mayor of Ridgefield Borough is DemocratAnthony R. Suarez, whose term of office ends on December 31, 2019. Members of the Ridgefield Borough Council are Council President Russell A. Castelli (D, 2020), Hugo Jimenez (D, 2019), James V. Kontolios (D, 2019), Lauren Larkin (D, 2020; appointed to serve an unexpired term), Ray Penabad (D, 2021) and Dennis Shim (D, 2021).
In June 2018, the Borough Council selected Lauren Larkin from a list of three candidates to fill the seat expiring in December 2020 that became vacant following the resignation of Javier Acosta. Larkin served on an interim basis until the November 2018 general election, when she was elected to serve the balance of the term of office.
In July 2009, Mayor Suarez was one of 44 people arrested across the state as part of Operation Bid Rig, a joint investigation into political corruption and money laundering. Suarez was charged with accepting a $10,000 cash bribe for assistance in arranging approvals to develop properties in Ridgefield. In a special election in August 2010, Suarez narrowly survive a recall effort and was acquitted on all charges in October 2010.
Bergen County is governed by a directly elected County Executive, with legislative functions performed by a seven-member Board of Chosen Freeholders. The freeholders are elected at-large in partisan elections on a staggered basis, with two or three seats coming up for election each year; a Chairman, Vice Chairman and Chairman Pro Tempore are selected from among its seven members at a reorganization meeting held each January.
As of 2018[update], the County Executive is Democratic James J. Tedesco III of Paramus, whose term of office ends December 31, 2018. Bergen County's Freeholders are
Freeholder Chairman Thomas J. Sullivan Jr., (D, Montvale, term as freeholder ends 2019; term as freeholder chairman ends 2018),
Freeholder Vice-Chairwoman Germaine M. Ortiz (D, Emerson, term as freeholder ends 2019; term as freeholder vice-chairwoman ends 2018),
Freeholder Chairman Pro-Tempore Mary J. Amoroso (D, Mahwah, term as freeholder ends 2019; term as freeholder chairman pro-tempore ends 2018),
David L. Ganz (D, Fair Lawn, 2020),
Steve Tanelli (D, North Arlington, 2018),Joan Voss (D, Fort Lee, 2020) and
Tracy Silna Zur (D, Franklin Lakes, 2018), Bergen County's constitutional officials are
County Clerk John S. Hogan (D, Northvale, 2021),
Sheriff Michael Saudino (D, Emerson, 2019) and
Surrogate Michael R. Dressler (D, Cresskill, 2021).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 5,467 registered voters in Ridgefield, of which 1,810 (33.1% vs. 31.7% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 1,098 (20.1% vs. 21.1%) were registered as Republicans and 2,558 (46.8% vs. 47.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There was one voter registered to another party. Among the borough's 2010 Census population, 49.6% (vs. 57.1% in Bergen County) were registered to vote, including 63.2% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 73.7% countywide).
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 2,320 votes here (58.3% vs. 54.8% countywide), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 1,570 votes (39.4% vs. 43.5%) and other candidates with 42 votes (1.1% vs. 0.9%), among the 3,980 ballots cast by the borough's 5,848 registered voters, for a turnout of 68.1% (vs. 70.4% in Bergen County). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 2,319 votes here (53.0% vs. 53.9% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 1,960 votes (44.8% vs. 44.5%) and other candidates with 40 votes (0.9% vs. 0.8%), among the 4,372 ballots cast by the borough's 5,853 registered voters, for a turnout of 74.7% (vs. 76.8% in Bergen County). In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 2,172 votes here (51.0% vs. 51.7% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 2,038 votes (47.8% vs. 47.2%) and other candidates with 23 votes (0.5% vs. 0.7%), among the 4,262 ballots cast by the borough's 5,845 registered voters, for a turnout of 72.9% (vs. 76.9% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 56.8% of the vote (1,410 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 41.9% (1,040 votes), and other candidates with 1.3% (33 votes), among the 2,625 ballots cast by the borough's 5,586 registered voters (142 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 47.0%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 1,390 ballots cast (48.0% vs. 48.0% countywide), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 1,281 votes (44.2% vs. 45.8%), Independent Chris Daggett with 135 votes (4.7% vs. 4.7%) and other candidates with 18 votes (0.6% vs. 0.5%), among the 2,898 ballots cast by the borough's 5,658 registered voters, yielding a 51.2% turnout (vs. 50.0% in the county).
^History, Teaneck Creek Organization. Accessed July 21, 2016.
^Nottle, Diane. "Do You Know These Women?", The New York Times, March 1, 1998. Accessed October 1, 2014. "Even before the Elizabeths, a Dutch housewife named Sarah Kiersted was learning the language of the local Lenape Indians, possibly as early as the 1640's [sic]. She became a channel of communication between Dutch settlers and the Lenape Chief Oratam, and for her services the chief granted her almost 2,300 acres -- comprising all of Ridgefield Park and sections of Teaneck and Bogota -- in 1666."
^Historic Englewood, City of Englewood. Accessed October 6, 2019. "In spite of the still strong Dutch character, the area became known as 'English Neighborhood' and stretched from Ridgefield to Closter."
^"Modernism began in the magazines", The Modernist Journals Project of Brown University and the University of Tulsa. Accessed January 5, 2012. "Under the editorship of Alfred Kreymborg, this little magazine published the work of Maxwell Bodenheim, Mina Loy, Marianne Moore, Ezra Pound, Carl Sandburg, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams, playing an important role in freeing American poetry from traditional models."
^Meeting Agenda for June 20, 2018, Borough of Ridgefield. Accessed October 6, 2019. "WHEREAS, there is a vacancy on the Council due to the recent resignation of Councilman Javier Acosta.... NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Ridgefield select LAUREN LARKIN to fill the unexpired term of Javier Acosta until the 2018 General Election."
^Staff. "N.J. corruption probe: List of politicians, religious leaders charged", The Star-Ledger, April 1, 2009, updated October 6, 2019. Accessed October 6, 2019. "The U.S. Attorney's Office has divided the 44 people charged in the sweeping N.J. federal probe into two groups -- those accused of public corruption, and those charged in the international money laundering ring.... Anthony Suarez, mayor of Ridgefield Borough and an attorney, and co-defendant Vincent Tabbachino, owner of a tax preparation business in Guttenberg. Suarez accepted $10,000 from the cooperating witness through Tabbachino as a middleman, for Suarez's promised assistance in getting approvals to develop properties in Ridgefield."
^Perez-Pena, Richard. "A Town Touched by Scandal Withholds Judgment", The New York Times, August 18, 2010. Accessed October 6, 2019. "Ridgefield voters narrowly rejected a recall of Mayor Anthony R. Suarez on Tuesday, more than a year after federal prosecutors charged him with taking a $10,000 bribe from a government informant posing as a corrupt real estate developer.... By the city clerk’s unofficial count, Mr. Suarez survived by 38 votes out of more than 2,000 cast."
^Ryan, Joe. "Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez found not guilty on federal corruption charges", The Star-Ledger, October 28, 2010, updated April 1, 2019. Accessed October 6, 2019. "When the mayor of Ridgefield was acquitted of conspiracy, bribery and extortion charges, a decade-long string of corruption wins for federal prosecutors in New Jersey came to end. It has been one of the proudest statistics in New Jersey law enforcement, encompassing disgraced public servants high and low, from building inspectors to powerbrokers, including former Newark Mayor Sharpe James and ex-State Senate President John Lynch."
^Biography, Congressman Bill Pascrell. Accessed January 3, 2019."A native son of Paterson, N.J., Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. has built a life of public service upon the principles he learned while growing up on the south side of the Silk City."
^Wildstein, David (January 24, 2018). "Calabrese unopposed for Caride seat". Politics DW. Retrieved February 9, 2018. Caride resigned last week, following Gov. Phil Murphy’s inauguration. She is currently the Acting Commissioner of Banking and Insurance as she awaits State Senate confirmation.
^"Icons of twentieth century photography come to Edinburgh for major Man Ray exhibition", ArtDaily. Accessed June 26, 2013. "He initially taught himself photography in order to reproduce his works of art but in 1920 began to work as a portrait photographer to fund his work in other media. In 1915, whilst at Ridgefield artist colony in New Jersey, he met the French artist Marcel Duchamp and together they tried to establish a New York outpost of the Dada movement."
^Bonner, Judith H.; and Pennington, Estill Curtis. "Gaul, Gilbert William", in The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 21: Art and Architecture, p. 318. University of North Carolina Press, 2013. ISBN9780807869949. Accessed November 16, 2017. "By 1910, he had returned to his native New Jersey, living out his remaining years in Ridgefield, where he continued to paint, producing some paintings of World War I, which lacked the immediacy and success of his Civil War work."
^Northern Branch DEIS, Northern Branch Corridor. Accessed May 6, 2017. "Ridgefield: The arrival of the Northern Railroad of New Jersey in Ridgefield in 1859 made this area, with its hills providing scenic vistas, accessible to New York City and ripe for suburban development. Several persons with interests in the railroad lived in Ridgefield. They included Thomas H. Herring, who, according to Poor's Atlas, in 1859 was the President of the Northern Railroad."
^Wassel, Bryan. "Incumbents face challenge for council seats in Paramus", Town News, November 7, 2011. Accessed May 6, 2017. "Lagana was raised in Ridgefield, and moved to Paramus in April 2009.... Lagana has served on various boards, including the Ridgefield Planning Board, the Bergen County Committee for Community Development and currently serves on the Paramus Environmental Commission."
^"David S. Jacobus" in Machinery, Volume 22, p. 421. Accessed November 16, 2017. "David Schenk Jacobus, the newly elected president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, was born in Ridgefield, N. J. in 1862."
^"Williams, William Carlos"Archived 2011-08-16 at the Wayback Machine, Pennsylvania Center for the Book at Pennsylvania State University. Accessed January 5, 2012. "William Carlos Williams began spending time at Grantwood in New Jersey. There he and other poets would work on their crafts. In 1916, he edited an episode of The Others, a poetry magazine based in Grantwood. He became friends at that time with Marianne Moore, who had very much in common with WCW, as she had studied biology in college. Williams would continue his involvement in Grantwood and The Others until the magazine failed due to funding shortages in the twenties and the group disbanded shortly thereafter."